(410) 685-3993 | (410) 685-7878 | (800) 492-1964
Director, ext 3040
Carol P. Waldhauser
Assistant Director, ext 3041
THE LAP ZONE:
By Patricia A. Mysa
When people get stuck in their lives or their work, it usually means that
some type of change needs to take place. They might know something is
wrong, but they aren’t fully aware that a change is needed. Others may
know that something needs to change, but they aren’t clear on what or how
Remember the old joke: How many psychiatrists does it take to change a
light bulb? Answer: Just one, but it takes a long time, it costs a lot,
it’s painful, and the light bulb really has to want to change. The only
part of that joke that is absolutely true is that you really have to want
to change. The fact is that change, no matter how good the potential
outcome will be, is always a scary proposition. There is comfort in
remaining in our own little cell. It feels safe.
Ever wonder why horses won’t leave a burning barn? Their 12’x12’ stall has
become a home for them, a place where they get food and with walls to
protect them from predators. There is a familiar routine to their lives:
At the same time each day, they are fed, turned out to pasture and later
returned to their stalls to be fed again and bedded down for the night.
There is safety in knowing what comes next.
One night there is a fire. Suddenly people are running around shouting.
Flames are shooting up here and there, crackling, making the barn look
different. What will happen next? Someone rushes into the stall and tries
to lead the horse out into the confusion and strangeness of it all. The
horse will not leave the place he has come to associate with safety,
comfort and predictability.
Most horses will die in the burning building rather than risk leaving the
illusion of safety. Sometimes if they are blindfolded they are forced to
trust their handler enough to take that first step into the unknown, to
walk through the danger and step out into freedom and true safety from the
So what is your gut reaction to change? Take a moment to jot down the
words, thoughts or feelings that come to you when you think of change. Now
look at how many of those words are positive and how many are negative. If
you are like most people, the negative ones outweigh the positive ones. As
the light bulb joke says, most people believe change will take a long
time, cost them a lot and be painful.
Change does not take a long time. Change occurs in the split-second in
which a decision to take action is made. What may take longer is the
battle with your inner demons that insist on protecting you from all the
negatives that you just wrote down. Your inner gremlins shout that you
will only be safe if you stay in your stall, even though the barn is
burning down around you.
The essence of change is the attitude shift you make when you stop
thinking “I can’t” and start believing “I can.” The most powerful moment
in my life was when, at a workshop, I suddenly decided to make a
commitment to myself that I was only going to do the work I loved and that
I would find a way to make that work provide me a living.
It changed my life. Doors opened and opportunities presented themselves to
me. I believe those doorways and opportunities were there all the time,
but I had to change my attitudes and beliefs so that I could see them. As
Thoreau said, “Things do not change; we change.”
What if you know a change needs to happen and you have made the decision
to take action but you are still stuck? First, there is a natural
resistance to change that protects us from whimsical changes of mind or
direction that might take the form of procrastination.
Procrastination is not all bad. It could be a sign that you haven’t done
your homework to prepare for this change or that this isn’t the right move
for you. Maybe you really don’t want to go in this direction, but someone
is “shouldering” you into this change.
If you are hesitating because you believe change will cost you a lot,
consider instead how much it will cost you not to change in terms of your
health and happiness, if not your bank account. If you are reluctant to
move forward because you fear the discomfort of changing things, ask
yourself how much pain you are in now with the way things are.
If you would like to learn more about how to get unstuck, contact Carol
Waldhauser, Assistant Director of the MSBA Lawyer Assistance Program, at
(800) 492-1964 or (410) 685-7878, ext. 3041, for details about a free tele-class.
Also, plan to attend the MSBA’S Lawyer Assistance Program’s upcoming
monthly fall mini-seminars on the theme of change.
Patricia A. Mysak is a Tao LifeCoach who helps people nationwide get
“up and running again on the road of life.”